Inspired by Phil Faranda

As I gobbled some crazy good pizza Phil lectured me that I need to be blogging again.

I had lunch with my good pal and Realtor Extraordinaire Phil Faranda the other day. As I gobbled some crazy good pizza Phil lectured me (kindly, as it were) that I need to be blogging again.

In between chomps on the pizza I responded.

GULP. “Been there done that Phil. I used to blog on tcurranmortgage a LOT.” BITE. CHOMP. GULP. YUM.

“Do it again,” says the JPhilip man.

So he got me to thinking. Not just about Pizza, but about blogging again. Then he drew me in ever so craftily when I responded in a rather lengthy way to his posting on his Facebook blog. You can read for yourself how my pizza-enabling-pal became my new blogging-enabling-friend. And I quote: “Trevor, you just wrote a blog post! See how easy?”

I did it again this morning. Got on my soapbox and came real close to ranting and raving in reply to one of Phil’s eloquent and passionate blogs about our interesting business we all work in.

Am I back to blogging BIG-TIME? Since I’m crazy busy in my new role as Director of Business Development for a busy mortgage company, I truly don’t believe I have the time, but I’ll try to come back here to more often and enlighten y’all with my thoughts and information on mortgages, real estate and the homebuying experience.

Speaking of blogs, do check out Phil’s and also my good friend Gary’s (also known as Dedicated WebMaster of this here tcurranmortgage blog) blog about his search for a home in Babylon.

Hey Phil, here’s a re-cap of a bunch of articles I done blogged “back in the day” about the negotiating process. These are the lessons I’ve learned over my 20 year career as a mortgage professional and the distillation of the advice I have given (and continue to give) my HomeBuyer clients:

How To Make An Offer: Redux 2009

Asking Price Doesn’t Matter To Realistic Buyers

When Is The Best Time Of Year To Buy A Home?

FSBO’s: For Sale By Owner

And, in a more-detailed response to Phil’s FaceBook posting this morning about the Seller who didn’t counter-offer, an excerpt from a rather old blog entry here on, Negotiating An Offer In A Changing Market. The excerpt from that article is posted here to further illuminate Phil’s point that a Seller should ALWAYS counter-offer a Buyer’s offer no matter how low it is. Phil says that Buyers are so hard to come by that, when you have one in front of you, you (The Seller) must react with more than a “NO” to a lowball offer.

My personal spin on that is the Seller isn’t really serious about selling the house. See more below.

Serious Sellers. Oh boy there are a lot of houses on the market. Don’t let that fool you into thinking they are all ready for the taking by smart Buyers like you.

Assume there is a percentage of Sellers out there who are not serious about selling their homes. They still think it’s last year and the prices are still mega-millions. Note to Sellers: the market has changed!

You want to discern who is serious about Selling and who is standing there thinking their homes are cash cows waiting to be milked by an unsuspecting Buyer. Note to Buyer: that’s not YOU!

Some folks don’t need to move. The job is not relocating to Arizona; it’s not time to retire; they don’t need to buy a bigger house to accommodate the elderly Mom who is moving in with them. Some folks just have this idea they can sell their home and make tons of money. That’s not “serious about selling” in my book.

You can ask a lot of questions to get at the “truth” behind a Seller’s motivations to sell. You may not get answers to your questions, or the answers may reveal nothing of the Seller’s intentions, or, worse, you may be lied to.

In my long experience I have found the best way to get at the secret of whether or not a Seller really wants to/needs to sell a home is to make an offer.

The person who doesn’t respond to an offer probably thinks he’ll just sit tight to get his price. That’s fine, but if the house isn’t worth that price anymore, then you, educated Buyer, will be moving on to greener pastures.

If your original offer is seriously low, and there is no response, try raising it. If still there is no reaction—a counter offer from the Seller is what I consider a reaction—then this Seller probably isn’t serious.

Time for you to move on. There are plenty of houses out there. Keep going until you find a Seller who really is serious about selling their home.

These are just basic suggestions to help you chart the mysterious waters of a cooling market.

You really must be out there looking, looking, and looking some more, making offers, and making more offers in order to develop a good sense of where the market is going and how you can achieve your goal of homeownership.

Thanks Phil for dragging me back here! Let’s see where it goes from here…

I welcome Comments for all my blog entries. I will be happy to review and approve all legitimate comments provided by readers of I do not permit unfettered access to comments for obvious reasons: mortgage spammers and their ilk. If you wish to Comment on any entry, please do so and I will quickly review and approve. Thanks for reading Hope that helps!

More “Old Is NEW” Stories and Stuff

Things will slow down when it comes to processing a loan application and purchasing a home. That’s the old way and it’s new again; as it should be.

I’ve written before, “Everything That Was Old is NEW Again.” The “old” ways of buying a home and getting a mortgage are coming back; please fasten your seat belts and move your seats to the upright position: we’re landing.

I spoke to my friend John McEntee, an attorney, the other day. He told me how 5 clients he had tried to refer to me had decided to go to the banks directly for their mortgage loans. (I guess they figured they would cut out the “middleman” and save a few bucks; fact is, mortgage brokers get lower/discounted rates you can’t get at the banks!)

John complained of the terrible state of service at the banks. In one case an appraisal had been done on the house, the appraiser had forwarded the appraisal report to the bank, but the bank lost it. Twice.

Another client faxed over their docs—paystubs and bank statements—to the loan processor at the bank. The bank processing people couldn’t find the docs. John said, “You call and you can’t get an underwriter on the phone, and when you do, they’re all very good with their sweet customer service voice, but they can’t get anything done.” And he wasn’t complaining about any single bank in particular; all the banks had similar problems.

We’re seeing the same thing at our firm. Our emails and phone calls go unanswered quite often at the Lenders we work with. We spend a lot of time jostling between harassing the banks while simultaneously providing a good customer service “face” to our clients and referral sources (we always try to provide the service to such a level the client has no idea just how bad things are with the banks).

I had a meeting with a Regional VP for a BIG bank in our office last week. My complaints were similar to John’s. The problem with my complaints is that WE are processing the loan application. Because of our experience, we kinda sorta REALLY know what we’re doing. So, when we send a file to the bank, it’s complete. Underwrite it and close it! Set it and forget it!

But, we’re having to deal with overwhelmed and inexperienced Underwriters, especially with regards to FHA loans, and we’re being ignored same as the average consumer.

Now, while a lot of the OLD ways are returning to our industry, this abysmal level of service is not one of those things. In the old days, back in the nineties, loans took time to approve and close, but you always had someone you could speak to. Customer service was never truly “exceptional” but it wasn’t disgustingly abysmal, either.

What has made a dramatic return to the industry is the notion that a loan “closes when it closes.”

That is, when the loan application is FULLY processed, FULLY underwritten, with all documentation in order, then the loan can close. And getting to that fully-processed stage requires time, patience, and, often, more documentation.

Here in New York, home buyers use an attorney to represent them for a home purchase. In New York a sale of real property cannot take place unless a written contract is executed between the two parties (Seller and Buyer). Thus, we use attorneys.

The contract is the foundation upon which is built the entire sale/purchase transaction. The terms of the contract lay out everything from the appliances and/or rose bushes to be included in the sale, to the purchase price and time permitted to obtain a mortgage loan.

In recent years during the fantasy boom, contracts here in New York began to call for commitments in two weeks and closings in 30 days. Say good bye to that nonsense.

Now we’re back to the OLD way. It takes time to process and close a loan. I’ve said to many Realtors and attorneys lately that we’ll be seeing a return to 60 day commitment periods and 90 day closing periods written into purchase contracts.

I’m sure these recent ugly customer services issues will work themselves out at the banks. As we settle further into that old mindset of “full documentation,” “common sense underwriting,” and a properly processed loan application, all parties involved will work together to smooth the wrinkles of this new OLD process.

And things will slow down when it comes to processing a loan application and purchasing a home. That’s the old way and it’s new again; as it should be.